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Eleven animals missing from Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo in Gainesville

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Eleven animals have disappeared from their exhibits at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.

Two Red Foot Tortoises and two Box Turtles disappeared from their open enclosure on the morning of May 24 after a public appearance for World Turtle Day the day before, officials say.

A week later, zookeepers discovered another seven animals missing from their secured enclosures.

These animals included a squirrel monkey, a skink, two red foot tortoises and another three box turtles.

The gopher tortoises are a protected species, making it a third-degree felony to harm or tamper with them. The two were rescued by the teaching zoo after surviving a dog attack and being hit by a vehicle.

They both have multiple metal plates keeping their shells in place. They are also on medication to prevent a deadly virus that led to four tortoise deaths earlier this year.

Police say there is evidence the animals were stolen from the facility.

The issue is under investigation.

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